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  • January 2018 | formlabs.com

    FORMLABS WHITE PAPER:

    Introduction to Digital Dentistry and 3D Printer Buyer’s Guide

    Learn how to move from analog to digital workflows

    and find a 3D printer for your dental practice or lab.

  • FORMLABS WHITE PAPER: Introduction to Digital Dentistry and 3D Printer Buyer’s Guide 2

    Table of Contents

    Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

    Why Go Digital? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

    The Digital Dentistry Workflow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

    How to Implement Digital Workflows in a Dental Lab or Practice . . . . . . . . 8

    Dental 3D Printing Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

    How to Evaluate 3D Printing Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

    Get Started with Digital Dentistry and 3D Printing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

  • FORMLABS WHITE PAPER: Introduction to Digital Dentistry and 3D Printer Buyer’s Guide 3

    Introduction There’s no way around it: the future of dentistry is inevitably digital. With cutting-edge digital

    solutions for impression scanning, treatment planning, and digital manufacturing, what was

    once prohibitively expensive is rapidly becoming accessible, already transforming thousands

    of dental labs and practices worldwide. As CAD/CAM continues to replace traditional

    workflows and become the standard of care, digital solutions have become a necessary

    consideration for any dental business.

    Throughout this white paper, you’ll learn about:

    The reasons and benefits of going digital

    The digital dentistry workflow and how it’s different from analog processes

    The best strategies for getting started with digital dentistry

    Differences between dental 3D printing technologies

    The comprehensive criteria and aspects to evaluate before investing

    in a 3D printing solution

    If you are managing a dental laboratory or practice, look no further—this is your ultimate guide

    to digital dentistry.

    Why Go Digital? HIGH QUALITY AND PRECISION

    No two dental cases are the same. Patient anatomy is unique, and each treatment is tailored,

    enabled by a long history of artisanal custom, human-centric craftsmanship. But, as with any

    trade, quality is dependent on the skills of a given dentist, assistant, or technician, and achieving

    consistent, high-quality, affordable dental products with so many potential sources of error is

    incredibly difficult.

    Digital dentistry reduces the risks and uncertainties introduced by human factors, providing higher

    consistency, accuracy, and precision at every stage of the workflow. Intraoral digital impression

    scanning removes many of the variables associated with taking a traditional impression, giving

    technicians more accurate data to design from. Dental CAD software tools provide visual interfaces

    similar to traditional workflows, with the added benefits of being able to automate certain steps,

    as well as easily identify and fix mistakes. Digital manufacturing equipment such as 3D printers or

    milling machines deliver a range of high-quality custom products and appliances with superior fit

    and repeatable results.

    All of this makes for dental products with better fit, function, and clinical acceptance by the patient,

    with fewer errors and adjustments along the way.

  • FORMLABS WHITE PAPER: Introduction to Digital Dentistry and 3D Printer Buyer’s Guide 4

    IMPROVED EFFICIENCY: TIME AND COST SAVINGS

    Digital dentistry can be a no-nonsense business choice, improving efficiency in dental procedures

    and streamlining workflows, benefiting both the dental practice and dental lab.

    In a dental practice, saving time on menial tasks means shorter appointments, increased

    throughput, and happier patients. Easy impression taking with intraoral scanners reduces chair time,

    and cuts out the cost of impression materials, or the need to ship impressions to the lab. There’s

    instant feedback, and no manual errors like voids, bubbles, or tears, eliminating the need for

    retakes. Practices can bring production in-house for simple applications using 3D printers, saving

    both time and costs.

    In the dental lab, digital design and manufacturing increase technician productivity, and reduce

    hands-on work, leading to more precise production, fewer reworks, and less time per unit. CAD

    software now includes tooth and implant libraries, and application-specific suites simplify the design

    and planning of any restoration or appliance. Milling machines and 3D printers can batch jobs

    together, operate unattended, and are now so affordably priced that dental labs of any size can

    take advantage.

    3D printed removable die models are an efficient way to check the accuracy of final restorations.

  • FORMLABS WHITE PAPER: Introduction to Digital Dentistry and 3D Printer Buyer’s Guide 5

    BETTER PATIENT EXPERIENCE AND OUTCOMES

    One of the most significant benefits of digital technologies is improved patient experience and

    comfort. A satisfied patient is more likely to come back and refer others, contributing to the long-

    term success of all dental businesses.

    Digital technologies improve the workflow from diagnosis to planning to treatment. Intraoral

    scanning is faster and substantially more comfortable than regular impressions, while CBCT

    scanning adds a new dataset to assist planning. Virtual treatment planning and appliance design

    enable less invasive treatments and prosthetics with a better fit.

    Digital dentistry makes for faster treatments, fewer visits, and higher prosthetic acceptance rates

    with measurably better clinical outcomes.

    3D printed surgical guides enable quick and high-precision implant placement for just $2-5 per guide.

  • FORMLABS WHITE PAPER: Introduction to Digital Dentistry and 3D Printer Buyer’s Guide 6

    The digital dentistry workflow can move back and forth between

    dental practice and lab, increasing efficiency and collaboration.

    The Digital Dentistry Workflow With a wide range of digital dental specialties, from general dentistry to orthodontics and

    implantology, the design of different treatments and prostheses varies somewhat by specialty and

    application, but they all follow the same basic digital workflow: 1. Scan, 2. Design, 3. Manufacture.

  • FORMLABS WHITE PAPER: Introduction to Digital Dentistry and 3D Printer Buyer’s Guide 7

    SCAN

    Like traditional dental product fabrication, digital production starts with the patient’s individual

    anatomy. Intraoral scanners can be used in the dental practice to capture scans directly from

    the patient, replacing manual impressions with fast and accurate digital impressions. Alternately,

    desktop optical scanners in dental labs can be used to scan traditional alginate and PVS

    impressions or plaster models. For treatments and applications that require patient osteotomy, such

    as surgical guides for implants, an additional dataset needs to be collected using CBCT scanners.

    Requirements: Intraoral scanner or desktop optical scanner, CBCT scanner (optional)

    DESIGN

    After scanning, patient anatomical data is imported into dental CAD software, where treatments can

    be planned and prosthetics designed. Most software packages use design processes very similar

    to traditional workflows, employing highly visual interfaces with features like virtual articulators that

    are familiar to all technicians. Digital design results in easier, more precise treatments and simplified

    communication. After the treatments are designed, models can be exported for manufacturing. If a

    rework is needed, the same digital design can be reused without additional effort.

    Requirements: Dental CAD software

    MANUFACTURE

    To physically realize a digital model of a dental product, 3D models are uploaded to a digital

    manufacturing endpoint, such as a 3D printer or a milling machine. 3D printers are suitable for both

    labs and practices, and can produce a variety of products, including dental models, surgical guides,

    splints, retainers, wax-ups, castable prosthetics, and dentures. 3D printers work by solidifying parts

    layer by layer to form the shape of the dental appliances and models with digital precision. Milling

    machines are more common in dental labs, but also have some limited applicability to the dental

    practice as well. These can be used to create prosthetics and final restorations by subtracting from

    a solid block of material, such as zirconia.

    Depending on the particular product, assembly with prefabricated accessories might be necessary.

    Professional machinery and advanced materials are essential to manufacture dental products with

    a smooth surface finish, fine details, and high precision.

    Requirements: 3D printer or milling machine

  • FORMLABS WHITE PAPER: Introduction to Digital Dentistry and 3D Printer Buyer’s Guide 8

    How to Implement Digital Workflows